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Social protection was introduced to Africa in the late 1990s as part of the technical solution to address poverty. It followed the neoliberal governmental ideology whereby the state willingly or unwillingly outsources its responsibility for ensuring the well-being of the population to others, in this case development and donor agencies. The array of agencies like the World Bank, ILO and DFID that had been pioneering social protection initiatives in Asia and Latin America countries such as Brazil, India, Mexico, Chile since 1990 were joined by other international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to expand the promotion of social protection in Africa.
This led to the emergence of various versions of policies and practices being dished out by different donors, the building of coalition for advocacy and the formation of epistemic community of practices anchored on knowledge sharing and study tours facilitated by international development partners (mostly DFID) for some African countries to Latin American and Asian countries, where examples of successful practices of SP-CT had become evident.
This effort translated to the early examples of social protection programmes seen in Uganda (2002), Zambia (2003), Kenya (2004) and Ethiopia (2005).
By the year 2012, the reference to SP especially cash transfer as a strategy in the front burner of development discourse in Africa was no longer in doubt. Many African national governments, multilateral agencies, donor partners and international non-governmental organizations had gained enough confidence to position social protection at the forefront of the development agenda (Garcia & Moore, 2012). By this time, the most popular form of social protection across diverse countries is the provision of conditional/unconditional cash transfers to families/caregivers of disadvantaged children as a strategy to reduce poverty.
Cash transfers provide funds dependent on behavior, this sometimes include participation in nutrition monitoring and supplementation programmes (Gertler and Fernald, 2004). Evidence from a conditional cash transfer programme in Mexico for more than 20 million people showed that transfers to women plus direct nutritional supplements for young children and nutrition education were associated with children’s improved growth and motor development (Behrman and Hoddinott, 2004; Gertler and Fernald, 2004; Hoddinott J, Skoufias, 2004). Conversely, analysis of such a transfer programme in Brazil noted that recipient children grew slower than non-recipients, perhaps because families feared that benefits would be discontinued if their child grew well.
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